A simply real story, devoid of clichés, that will leave an indelible mark.

AN EMOTION OF GREAT DELIGHT

Shadi’s life is slowly falling apart: Her best friend, Zahra, doesn’t talk to her anymore, and her parents are dealing with grief and depression in the aftermath of her brother Mehdi’s sudden death.

It’s 2003, and all of this is compounded by the hatred Shadi receives every day at school for being Iranian American and a hijabi. The lack of support leaves Shadi struggling to keep afloat. She’s behind in her classes and exhausted because she often stays up at night listening to her mother’s agonizing despair over losing Mehdi. Her father, once a healthy, fit man, recently had a second heart attack, and Shadi’s sister, Shayda, has taken over running the house. Everyone is so mired in their own trauma and pain that Shadi, the youngest, often finds herself forgotten, both literally and figuratively. The expectation of keeping one’s home life private and of separating the political from the personal are themes throughout the book. Woven through this story of trauma and resilience is a soft romance between Shadi and Zahra’s brother, Ali. Mafi confronts issues of mental health, suicidality, racism, and self-love in ways that will leave readers reacting viscerally and powerfully. Reading this novel is like being dropped straight into the everyday lives of a Muslim family in post–9/11 America.

A simply real story, devoid of clichés, that will leave an indelible mark. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297241-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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